The Jump

December 15, 2020

Documentary, Festival, Review, Streaming, This Week 1 Comment

The Jump has relevance today, as it shows the ideal of an American society that is morally sound in principle, one that allows the freedom to protest, the existence of many strands of activism and the framework to accept refugees.
The Jump_still from movie (5)

The Jump

Grant Shade
Year: 2020
Rating: 15+
Director: Giedre Zickyte
Cast:

Simas Kudirka

Released: Until December 20, 2020
Running Time: 84 minutes
Worth: $16.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

The Jump has relevance today, as it shows the ideal of an American society that is morally sound in principle, one that allows the freedom to protest, the existence of many strands of activism and the framework to accept refugees.

The story of Simas Kudirka plays out like a made for TV, cold war potboiler and would be hard to believe if it wasn’t historical fact. In November 1970, Kudirka, a Lithuanian sailor on a Soviet fishing boat, jumped onto a U.S. Coast Guard vessel while crew members of the two ships were conducting high level fishing discussions. Claiming asylum, Kudirka was initially hidden by the American crew, until orders came to hand him back to the Soviets. And this is only the beginning of the story.

After Simas is returned to his vessel, his fate unknown to the West, word gets out and protests spark up throughout the U.S. These are led by the Lithuanian-American diaspora, who maintain that the U.S. doesn’t turn away refugees, and that they, in fact, may have breached international law in doing so with Kudirka.

U.S. Presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford make appearances in archive footage and Henry Kissinger is actually interviewed for the film. Some of the most affecting segments are the statements given by the crew of the Coast Guard ship, especially the captain, who has had to live with his decision to follow those questionable orders.

The film reconstructs the ‘jump’ in a novel way, by having 85-year-old Kudirka retrace his steps on the actual ship involved, the USCGC Vigilant. He’s a charming, sincere man and his fearlessness and determination to be treated fairly shine through all the political machinations.

Kudirka mentions that when he decided to defect, he had no thoughts about his family, his friends, any repercussions, just that he had to get away. It’s a salient point that, by sheer coincidence, a member of his family proves instrumental in gaining his eventual freedom from the gulags.

The Jump has relevance today, as it shows the ideal of an American society that is morally sound in principle, one that allows the freedom to protest, the existence of many strands of activism and the framework to accept refugees.

The director, Giedre Zickyte, balances his politics well, showing that Kudirka’s desperate need was not necessarily to get to the U.S., but to get away from the U.S.S.R.

There’s one significant sequence that shows a TV news report of Kudirka raising the U.S. flag at his apartment in New York. The news voice-over announces that he does this every day, yet an old friend he ‘meets’ on the street intimates that they only did that for the cameras. Mirroring this, Kudirka is later seen raising a Lithuanian flag back in his home country after noting that the U.S. is “beautiful, but it’s not for me.”

Later, we see a simple scene that neatly encapsulates the film. Kudirka watches the actual TV film of his life, The Defection of Simas Kudirka, and half-complains, through teary eyes, that it’s “so American in style”.

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